Last Night’s Seminar

May 16, 2007

I went to the Organic Gardening in Small Spaces course last night. They were selling a manual called, “Garden Guide: A Product of Community Garden Network of Ottawa (English PDF file).

Here’s some of the stuff I learned:

  • Pine needles are a great mulch.
  • You can use empty 250 ml milk cartons to collect bugs. Just open both sides of the top, tap the bugs in, close the top, push it down into a cube and leave it beside your garden. The bugs inside will die and you can toss them into the soil the next time you go back to pick more bugs.
  • AccuTest Laboratories does soil testing in the Ottawa area.
  • Tomatoes can self-fertilize which means that you can grow them in your house.
  • When growing indeterminate, vining tomatoes you should cut the main stem once the plant has put out four to five clusters of flowers. This will ensure that the plant will put its energy into growing the flowers into fruit instead of putting it into growing the vine.
  • The first seven or eight flowers on a squash plant are male, which grow directly off the vine. Female flowers have a short stump (barbell) between it and the vine.
  • Sunflowers send out a chemical in the soil that prevents other plants from growing (similar to the black walnut tree).
  • A great book on dealing with pests is called, “The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control“.

It was very interesting and the handouts on pH, composting material, fertilzers and books were great. We were also given a layout for a 10′ x 10′ vegetable garden which seemed to coincide with the Community Garden Network’s new garden plot, Orleans Community Garden. If you’re interested in a garden plot, you can help set up the garden on Saturday, June 2 at 9 AM (rain date is Sunday, June 3) at 3350 St. Joseph Blvd, across the street from the police station.

3 Responses to “Last Night’s Seminar”

  1. Ax Says:

    I have heard you can use vinegar to kill weeds. Haven’t tried it myself.

    If you put down too much Borax (to kill ants) you will also kill your grass (my own personal experience).

    Jerry Baker’s “Lawn Book” recommends using dish soap in a hose end sprayer to break down the surface tension if you have a lot of clay soil. He also recommends old beer in the same sprayer to help organic material break down into nutrients.

    My favourite – a bit of Sunlight dish soap with water in a spray bottle kills earwigs, tent caterpillars, etc. Sunlight seems to work better than others, e.g. Palmolive.

  2. Kathy Says:

    Hi Ax,

    Those sound like good suggestion, however, I’m not sure how happy my neighbours would be if I started spraying stale beer on my lawn. It already smells like a venti quad ristretto espresso and a week ago it smelled like Corn Puffs.

    When you said you put down Borax to kills the ants (and your grass), did you sprinkle directly on the lawn or did you have it in small containers with holes on the side?


  3. Ax Says:

    Hi Kathy,

    I just put the Borax directly on the grass/ants(with success) a couple of times, but the last time I overdid it.

    The beer doesn’t really smell much (but you need to have old beer) or for very long. Perhaps it depends on the beer you use… 🙂 I predict your lawn won’t smell like coffee for too long.

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